Feeling Like a Fool

No one wants to feel like a fool. When it happens, our faces flush, we turn our eyes away (usually towards the ground). We usually want to hide or disappear, and, just as likely the burn in our face quickly passes to the hot burn of anger. Often what follows are words or actions we regret later. Having felt like a fool, we often act like one, unable to muster the calm…

Is the Universe Tragic?

Tragedy is among the older forms of story-telling. The ancient Greeks can be said to have perfected it, and theorized about it with great care. One need only read the plays of Aeschylus or Sophocles to come away with a deep appreciation of the very nature of tragedy. I will not offer anything like the sophisticated analysis of Aristotle. However, I will make a single observation that seems apt in thinking about…

An Unnecessary Salvation

One of the oddest thoughts to have crept its way into the Christian mind is the notion of what is “necessary to salvation.” The simple questions within the New Testament, “What must we do to be saved?” quickly become the stuff of bumper-stickers and a reduced version of Christianity unable to sustain a genuine spiritual life. In my seminary years (Anglican), I had a professor who stated that he did not believe…

Modern Illusions

A “better world” and “making a difference” are deeply embedded in our cultural consciousness. They seem to be obvious goals for the human life. My recent articles questioning this consciousness have touched a deep chord for many, some wondering that if such things are wrong, “why bother?” There are two thoughts I want to offer in this article. The first addresses the illusion of the better world and making a difference, while…

Doing Good in a Bad World

A bad man cannot make a good world. “Something must be done!” If there were a possible slogan for the modern world, this would be it. It’s power lies in its truth. Some things are tragic and unjust, broken and dysfunctional. Any analysis that suggested that nothing should be done will fall on deaf ears – and should. However, this is where the great temptation of modernity begins. Something must be done.…

Bob, His Doctor, and Your Moral Life

Bob woke up one morning and felt terrible. He had no energy and his head hurt. After a while, he decided to go to see his doctor. When he got there the doctor had a number of questions for him: “Are you eating good meals? A balanced diet?” Bob replied, “Yes.” “Are you getting enough exercise?” the doctor continued. “Yes,” Bob said. “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Then, I think you’re well,” the…

Unavoidable Suffering and Salvation – The Way of Shame

At the heart of the modern narrative is a concern to alleviate and even eliminate suffering. This understanding is rooted in the Christian virtue of compassion. In many ways, however, modern compassion has been detached from its original context and become a thing-in-itself. Modernity is an arena where compassion has run amok, and, ironically, promises to create new and unique miseries in its wake. The Christian gospel is deeply entwined with the…

Understanding Evil and Doing Good

The Fathers commonly spoke of three things together: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. The three are related. And it is necessary to understand these three in order to understand the nature of evil – both why it is evil and how it behaves. The root of Truth, Beauty and Goodness in the Fathers is Being and Existence. God alone has true Being and all things exist and have their being as a gift…

Unecumenism – The Saving Union

My recent articles on the Church drew attention to the topic of union and its importance within the life of the Church – indeed, it is the life of the Church. Orthodox theology, when rightly considered, has a “seamless” quality: everything fits and one thing enlightens another. Perhaps the single most important thread in this seamless quality can be summed up in the term union. The word for union (ἕνωσις) does not actually…

A Purpose-filled Life

The project of modernity was to produce people who believe they should have no story except the story they choose when they had no story. Such a story is called a story of freedom – institutionalized economically as capitalism and politically as democracy. That story, and the institutions that embody it, is the enemy we must attack through Christian preaching.  Stanley Hauerwas, “Sanctify Them in the Truth,” 197-198. +++ The chart I…